The highest density of wildlife? Of course – the Ngorongoro Conservation Area! A unique landscape and big game, wherever you look: Ephants, Zebras, Buffalos, Gazelles and – yes! – Rhinos. And one of the densest known populations of lions. Any other wishes?
|Destination||Tanzania, Northern National Parks (Arusha, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara) and Zanzibar|
|How and when I got there||Flights with Turkish Airlines from Cologne via Istanbul and Zanzibar to Kilimanjaro Airport; return flight from Zanzibar via Kilimanjaro and Istanbul to Cologne; January – February 2019|
|Where I stayed||Lake Duluti Lodge (near Arusha, https://www.lakedulutilodge.com/)
Highview Hotel (Karatu, http://www.highviewhotel.com/)
Meru View Lodge (close to southern Arusha Nat. Park Gate, http://www.meru-view-lodge.com/meru/en/)
Shu’Mata Camp (2 hours north of Moshi/Asursha, http://www.shumatacamp.de/index.php)
Hatari Lodge (close to nothern Arusha Nat. Park Gate, http://www.hatarilodge.de/en/contact.php)
Le Parlour Apartments (Boma La Ngombe, close to JRO airport, no own website)
Melia Zanzibar Hotel (Kiwengwa, Zanzibar, https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/tanzania/zanzibar/melia-zanzibar/index.html)
|Restaurants||we tried only the Restaurants of the above mentioned hotels / lodges. And we liked best:
Hatari Lodge, Shu’Mata Camp and Lake Duluti Lodge: outstanding!
Meru View Lodge and Melia Zanzibar: very good
|Things to do||Game drives in the National Parks – the obvious thing
Hiking at Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru: not exactly the relaxing type of vacation
Walking Safaris and relaxing (e.g. at the Hatari Lodge or a tented camp like Shu’Mata): more solitude to “feel Africa”
|Recommendations in a nutshell||see the post regarding “things to consider for travelling in Tanzania”!
Use a renowned travel agency for organising the safari trip (like Chamaeleon)
get some rest between the bumpy rides
Further Reading: Lonely Planet Tanzania Travel Guide
Our third day was dedicated to the famous Ngorongoro Crater. This stunning landscape is actually not a National Park (as Massai people live here), but a Conservation Area, which is a special protected area. Due to it’s unique features it has been appointed a World Heritage Site.
Karatu – stepping stone to Ngorongoro
Ngorongoro, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic cadera, is located 180 km (3 hours y car) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. As we visited Tarangire National Park the day before, we spent the night in Karatu, a small town also called “safari junction” for being the last town before the northern national parks. Due to its altitude of more than 1500 m the temperatures are quite agreeable. We stayed for 2 nights at the Highview Hotel – a hotel that we liked – hmph…. medium. The rooms were quite ancient; the location however was great:
The hotel features a nice terrace and swimming pool – perfect when “coming home” covered in dust and exhausted from the sun, the days heat and the bumpy ride. And from there it’s just a stone’s throw to Ngorongoro. And lots of animals already on the way, like storks:
and the ubiquitous baboons:
An early morning start is advisable, as Ngorongoro is a tourist magnet. This picture of the gate is NOT representative – there were lots of people.
After 30 min of registration etc we got in and up to the rim.
And there it was – the grave of the famous (at least for Germans) Professor Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael, who both dedicated their lifes to Serengeti and Ngorongoro:
Soon after that we reached the lookout at the rim. And in fact, standing for the first time at the rim and looking down into the huge crater is absolutely amazing. We were told that staying at the lodges on the rim costs a fortune. But it must be phantastic and is probably worth the money.
It took us more than one hour to go down to the Caldera floor, as there were many interesting things on the way, like a group of elephants quite high up on the rim that we got to watch all for ourselves. And more elephants on our way down.
You’ll also see “a typical massai village” – however, it’s artificial and built for just tourists – we skipped that, as we knew that we would see many non-artificial ones when going to the Shu’Mata camp later in the week.
On the way down there are several great views of the caldera:
And very picturesque trees on the way:
A “lone wanderer”, a huge elephants all on its own…
…that crossed our way:
Arriving on the crater floor, the first amazing thing to realize is the huge number of large animals scattered all over the plain.
And just a little bit further, the landscape seems empty, just a great vastness, but equally impressive:
The travel guide refers to “more than 30.000 large mammals” in the caldera, and I certainly believe that.
…actually, LOTS of Zebras:
And zebras taking a dust bath:
and all these animals mingle and obviously get along very well – ok, apart from the predators. And occsionally, there were predators – like Hyienas, watching yummie geese:
Difficult to spot, as they are just lying in the grass. But we managed. On the first spot there were three of them, on the next 5 and on the last one four. All of them a bit lazy – we waited for about 15 minutes for the first group to develop some kind of activity, but in vain.
The next group of lions had gathered around a prey, a large carcasse, maybe a dead gnu – and was circulated by a group of hyenas, waiting for an opportunity to snatch a part of the meal.
Later in the morning we arrived at the “hippo pool”, a beautiful water hole filled with hippos, and just next to it another group of lions.
In addition to the huge number of mammals, there were lots of different birds as well:
We had a late lunch at the designated picnis area – with the disadvantage that we were supposed to eat in the car, due to predatory birds in the vicinity. Still – the area was great:
And: hippos in the lake next to the picnic spot:
After a late lunch break at the picnic area we continued in the direction of the exit, and then we spotted the first two rhinos. Unfortunately, pretty far away and visible only with magnifying glasses:
A mother rhino with child. Driving on, we spotted – even further away – a group of three rhinos, and shortly after them another group of four. All just walking through or feeding on the low grass. And finally a single one, far away – of course. Overall 10 rhinos!
Ngorongoro – a unique atmossphere
Ngorongoro is full – full of animals, but also full of tourists. So, usually you will either drive in a “convoy” or you will at least meet other cars permanently. It is really crowded. Still, the large herds of animals is absolutely fascinating. And thus, the crater is really worth the visit. Maybe it’s a good idea to invest in a stay on the rim, as you might be able to get into the crater way before the crowd. So, overall for us it was four out of the big five, if you like to count. I personally prefer the feeling over the math…here some more atmosphere:
The Rim view:
The herds of zebras and gnus:
Each of the parks that we visited so far, was unique. Contemplating about which one was the nicest, we came up with no decision. All parks are so different from each other. And you get close-ups to the animals everywhere. So, maybe you can put it to the landscapes – either wide plains, soft hills of impressive mountains in the crater.
See more of our Tanzania Safari and Zanzibar Beach Trip here:
And find more information about Travelling in Tanzania here:
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.